Monday, 30 May 2016

Mark Harrison - Armed Pitt!


 The Men (and Women) in Grey are back! Prog 1982 sees the return of Bulliet and his ETC crew as they fight back against the Godstar which is threatening to blow them to smithereens! Once again, series artist and all round clever clogs Mark Harrisson is on cover duties as he brings us a cinematic feast to our eyes!

As ever, Mark has been kind enough to give us a fascinating breakdown of his process, which is brilliant. Over to Mark...

"Tharg basically wanted a heroic "Gears  of War"  image, a "Those who are about to die" heroic shot. I thought also movie poster and both these approaches would inform the cover..."


Fenix in the Flames

"I roughed up a quick sketch of a tableau of our heroes, with projections of shattered buildings pointing to the Oval Godstar, giving an impression of being hemmed in, surrounded by flame and explosions, trapped. It's a moment just before the attack.  Alighting onto these building and closing in, I would put the "Angels' transforming into corporeal demonic scrotum beasties!" Wait... what!?!

"Yes, you read that correctly. All the alien bad guys have some sort of sexual imagery involved.  I may have some issues... ;) The strip goes full John Martin with a biblical Apocalypse."

Hmm, I think Mark may need to get his testicles checked out...

 "Bollocks!"

In Grey Area, we have seen the Homeworld being attacked by 'Angels' which pour out of the Godstar. Mark told me a little more about their design "The angels in their "light" form are based on Mandelbrot shapes which I thought looked pretty cool. I wanted something Doug Trumbull "Brainstorm"  like; morphing beings of light that were both angel and demon."


You're fracked!


Next, onto colour choices,  "The Gears of War image cited by Tharg made it easy to get a general feel for lighting and colours - plus I love GOW. An interesting fact - the makers of GOW contacted me a few years back saying they were huge fans of Glimmer Rats  (that had been one of the influences on the game) asking if I would be interested in doing a  comic strip for them! Unfortunately it would have been a conflict of interest so I had to decline. Liam Sharp I believe got the job and did an excellent job! I'm free now!!! ;)"

"Approaching the cover like a film poster was natural  for me as that approach has been part of my comic strip DNA  from day one. Getting a film like aesthetic.  It's probably why I've gravitated to concept art also. I started out  doing caricatures of TV and movie stars. (I still am in my Prometheus Parody!) "

"I cast  most of the major characters in a strip like a film (something I've done since Loose Cannons- my first strip). In the past I "cast" Susan Sarandon, Teri Hatcher, Dolph Lundgren, Rutger Hauer and Jean Reno in my strips. Many other artists do this. It can even influence character changes (Nick Fury to Sam Jackson!)"

"For Grey Area I've been using  Brad Pitt for Bulliet as a general guide. Just  to keep their likeness in mind. I usually do a sheet of heads that help; some expressions, plus it helps to keep me on track to any changes and reuse some shots. I have a terrible memory!"

"Here's a story, of some lovely ladies, who were blowing up some very ugly bugs!" 


"Something I discovered when researching a lot of comic artists for line art (which is a particular passion of mine right now) was many of these artists did the same thing, reused the same headshot,  just larger smaller or flipped. It can save time to just drop your own art back into the work and trace over it!" 

"Something artists also do is  pose for the characters and film/photograph themselves (yep - even pose for the female characters - lots of imagination involved there! ) Lots of hands on hips when I look back on it. Well it's heroic!" I would like to point the honourable gentleman to any of Neil Roberts' posts on this very blog for evidence of some top class photo reffing!

 I pose for most shots that are close/medium as I've found "acting out" the scene in a  strip helps come up with nice little character nuances. Especially gesturing with hands. Helps the characters look less static as if waiting for their lines. "
 
"The guns were trickier but I had (for the strip) created a template that I used to get a  foundation to work from. These templates make up the foundation of anything a bit complex. There's one for the Godstar in line form."

The patented Mark Harrison Super Soaker

 "I've also made custom brushes that can create repetitive alien shapes and a custom action that can render the red, black and white silhouettes out as line art.  Saves a lot of time and keeps the line weight consistent."

"The cover originally had Bulliet looking more like me but as I worked over my face. I thought the conceit of the art might as well be followed through and painted it to resemble a certain movie star. ;) Shameless pitching for a possible movie? I think we wouldn't say no film or TV show! :)"

Count me in, I think a Grey Area show would be brilliant! Below is Mark's mock up of the cover...

"It's behind you!!!" 
 
Followed by his glorious final image - glorious!
 
"Coming this summer... a movie like no other... Brad Pi-"
*Cough! Cough! Splutter! - Ouch! My poor throat!" 

 
And, of course, how the cover looks on your Progshelf - drokking marvellous!!!
 
Six soldiers (six and a half if you count Luwot) against a planet sized entity and a million angels. What could possibly go wrong?
 
Huuuuuuuge thanks to Mark for another thoroughly entertaining read into the making of a truly outstanding cover. However, I must urge him to get those testicles looked at ASAP!


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Simon Davis - Revenge of the Cyth!

 
You should see the other guy! The warped one comes crashing back in Prog 1979 as he fights for his life against childhood friend turned manic, Gort.
 
Simon Davis paints this stunning, yet painful looking cover to herald the return of the fan favourite series. Below we see his very cool watercolour sketch...
 
Turin Breaks?
 
Which, of course, led to his fully painted masterpiece as seen below...

"Please don't talk about me one eyes gone..." 

And here's how the Prog looks on your shelf, glorious!

 The whupped warror!
 
Huuuuuge thanks to Simon for sending me the sketch, a true gent!



Friday, 1 April 2016

Brendan McCarthy - Mad Axe! EDITED!



This weeks' 2000AD cover features mutants, a radioactive wasteland and balls to the wall action. Who would be the perfect choice to illustrate that...? Well, none other than 2000AD legend and Mad Max co-writer and designer Bendan McCarthy!

Since his work last graced the prog, Brendan has seen his triumphant Mad Max scoop SIX Academy Awards as well as a host of prestigious awards. He has also had his extremely McCarthy-esque creator owned comic series Dream Gang serialised by Dark Horse. More on that later...

An inspired choice for this weeks' cover, McCarthy brings Dredd's first meeting with the terrifying mutant Thorn to life with his usual digidelic palate! Below we can see his cover sketch...


McCarthy draws a different kind of Chopper

As well as his awesome finished version. I adore the colours on this, absolutely mesmerising!


A Thorn in Dredd's side...
 
Brendan generously sent a host of other files too, starting with this glorious Dredd commission titled "Dredd and Friends" simply amazing!!!"

 Is... is that a pasty?
 

"Dredd and Friends (and the Judda, and a fat perp.)"


EDIT - Brendan also sent this work in progress of a Psychedelic Judges commission he's working on, wow!


Dredd was unsure about Judge Armour's taste in wallpaper... 

DOUBLE EDIT! - The finished piece...



Brendan also included this zarjaz sketch for a Mad Max/Dredd pin up, maaan, I'd love to see this fully realised!

 Mad Max and Mean Machine. I want to see that meeting!
 
EDIT - Brendan sent an image of the finished piece as did my lovely mate Mick Cassidy, the lucky git that owns the piece!

While we're talking Mad Max, PLEASE take the time to visit Brendan's site at http://artbrendan.com/, there are some absolutely dazzling images on there, like this bugger...


I hope he washed his hands after going to the lavvy.
 
Brendan also sent his IDW covers from 2013 which saw him paying homage to some legendary comic covers of old. You can read my article on them here...

Look! Kirby!


 The Creeper!
 
 Captain Megacity-One!
 
And back to Dream Gang, which is being released as a graphic novel by Dark Horse in July. The story takes place in other people's dreams as a group of 'dream voyagers' battle a dark conspiracy! Written and illustrated by Brendan, you know you're in for a treat!

Flying lighthouse? Check! Dog in trousers? Check! Psychedelic lunacy? Check! Just another day in Brendan's imagination!
 
EDIT - Brendan also reminded me that the TPB of Sooner or Later comes out this week! This volume collects a bunch of stories written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Brendan. These include, of course, Sooner or Later and it's sequel Swifty's Return as well as a couple of stand alone stories by this crazily creative team and some interviews.

"You know it mocks sense!"

And here's how the cover of Prog 1975 looks at your local thrill merchant - glorious!

"Oh Joe, I've got a splitting headache!"
 
A HUUUUGE thank you to Brendan for sending the goodies, we are not worthy! Be sure to check out his wonderful site and buy a copy of Dream Gang in the summer!


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Nick Percival Special - Pacific Grim!


The dream team of Nick Percival and Mike Carroll are back in the Meg which sees (seas?) Dredd and Joyce battle the elements and more in the Pacific swirl of 'The Gyre.' As well as blowing our minds with unforgivingly harsh, visually stunning interiors, Nick has painted two glorious covers for the series. Over to Nick for more:

I wanted this Dredd adventure to look quite different from any previous Dredd stuff, so really concentrated on visually creating a new mini-world for Dredd and Joyce to be stranded in, all influenced from Mike‘s great script. It’s permanently raining, so I wanted a bit of a hazy look to the art, where outside, not everything is in full-focus, hopefully increasing the atmosphere and mood. I was looking at the movie, ‘Se7en’ quite a bit (one of my favourite films) where it’s constantly raining."

"For the cover to Part 1, I originally had a figure shot of Dredd, pelted by heavy rain which was OK but ultimately decided on a piece with a grander sense of scale having Dredd entering the unknown, perilous waters of the Gyre...”


Rain man


"Gottle o Gyre!"


Dredd Seas
 
The design team did an excellent job on this cover, really integrating the text into the image. Extra oil rations to those droids please Tharg!



"Haul away Joe!"

Nick's cover for part three was balls to the wall action, however, the first idea was little more menacing!

I wanted to do something very different to the cover for Part 1, which was all about setting the mood for story, so Part 3 was always going to be an action cover. Classic Dredd vs the villain type stuff. I actually sent Tharg a different image for Part 3..."


"I see you Joe Dredd, I drokkin' see you!"

"However, I woke up early the following morning with this new image stuck in my head, quickly sketched it out and sent it to Tharg, telling him to ignore the previous version. I had a lot of fun with this one and the whole story for The Gyre. It’s been cool to design and develop a new little world for Dredd to play in and Mike always has such good ideas for settings and characters, that it never gets boring.”

The finished article...

Krait balls of Gyre!
 
And here's how the finished Meg looks on your shelf, lawsome!

The Krait Skittish Face Off

HUGE thanks to Nick for sending the images and text. This was a classic series and I'd love to see Dredd return to the Gyre in future. It's too good to waste!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Clint Langley Special - The Hateful Eight!

 
Welcome to this ABC Warriors special, collecting together all of Clint Langley's Zarjaz covers for his and Pat Mills' excellent 'Return to Ro-Busters' story. I loved this story, a cracking return to the past but with some modern sensibilities both in terms of story and art. The whole conspiracy theory angle was ace, with many of the disasters of the past being false flag operations or even set up by Howard Quartz himself to earn yet more dirty cash!
 
Clint kicked the year off with this iconic image of Hammerstein. I like to think that this was the last thing the odious Howard Quartz saw in his human form...
 
Say "Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!"

I'm sure many of you know that ThreeA are working on making a range of high end 2000AD toys and I know they've been hard at work trying to crack Hammerstein from the start. This glorious image makes me want my Hammerstein figure right now!

Hammerstein Smush!

Clint was kind enough to send an alternative version of the cover using tone and a little spot colour, tremendous!

A shot of redeye!

Sob! the next one  is a heartbreaker! I remember my stomach doing a flip when I saw this. Ro-Jaws is easily one of my favourite 2000AD characters and I'd hate to lose the little nerk, thankfully he didn't meet his maker in this particular tale...   


A shot from the ABC Warriors Special of Strictly Come Dancing.


"Kiss me, Hammy!"
 
Say "Goodnight" at Gracie's as the P.D. troopers shoot up Gracie's Garage!



Chestburster


I bet he drinks Castrol Black Label.

And now the circle is complete! The Meknificent Sev... I mean eight graced the cover for the final part of the arc, showcasing the outstanding designs of these enduring characters.

Here are the inks...

The ABC Warriors variant of the Space Spinner.

And Clint's thrill power infused colours, amazing!

ABC Warriors: The pink hole!
 
A HUGE thank you to Clint for sending the images, he's done amazing things with this strip, completely capturing the feel of those original Ro-Busters tales but with a modern spin. A truly Meknificent artist!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Mark Sexton - Linky Monkey!


Ouch! Mark Sexton brings us this rather painful looking cover of jumping on issue, Prog 1973! The Mad Max storyboard and concept artist, and artdroid on the magnificent Dredd tale Ghosts, has given us an amazing cover fit for a jumping on prog! There's loads to discuss in this cover, so over to Mark to tell us more!

"Tharg (or his earthly incarnation, Matt Smith) requested an illustration - an iconic shot of Dredd, waist up, to be graced by appearing as a cover for the mighty Tooth!" Waist up because Dredd had no trousers on was my initial reaction here, which worries me - Pete.

"Had a bit of a think - there’s been some many iconic Dredd covers, where do you start?!? But it occurred to me that an iconic Dredd image would probably be a common thing that a very large number of perps in Mega-City One see - just after they’ve been shot… So with that morbid idea, I sketched out that idea (bottom left version)."

"I always like trying to tell a little story in every illustration if I can, so that felt like the best idea. I sketched out a few other possibilities - most of them terrible - and sent them to Matt. As is so often the case, the first idea is the strongest and that’s what he wanted..!"

I love all of these sketches, the top left is particularly cool, with the crowd all obviously looking at whoever, or whatever, Dredd has just shot. Very clever! The top right is terrifying too!

 "A macabre version of the Brady Bunch titles for the Dreddy Bunch was soon shelved"
 
"Sadly for buyers of original art, I did this digitally (straight after I finished the art for the recent Judge Dredd: Ghosts storyline written by the very lovely Michael Carroll)."
 
"So - take the sketch and attempt to make it pretty. Many, many sketchy trial and errors between there and the next, trying to get elements of Dredd right. He’s a tough character to make “feel” right - where everything looks balanced, and practical. I like trying to make things look like they exist for real..."
 Judge Dredd: Ghost.
 
I know Mark is a huuuuuge Dredd fan and he's obviously stressed over ever detail, as evidenced in his next quote: "Awful… Then inking, which takes me a while. Fixing many things on the way, as is evident… I had real problems with the head, no matter what I did, it felt wrong with Dredd bending his neck down to look at us. So eventually I finally did him looking down his nose at us with a sneer and bingo! Instant Dreddishness. Huzzah!" 
 

 Dredd gets lost in the giant dildo factory...
 
Next up, some  blatant cheek and provocation from the Antipodean artist!
 
"Then background bits - SO much easier after Dredd! Included are various jokes, including a certain chainlink obsessive and Pete Wells’ Sausage Surprise… 
 
As many fans will know, second biggest Dredd collector John Burdis (quite rightly) has a campaign to establish that the correct number of links in Dredd's chain is seven. Got it? SEVEN and only seven! Great to see Mark did six, just to wind him up!
 
Please note: Pete Wells' Sausage Surprise has since been renamed Pete Wells' Chipolata Disappointment, following a libel claim by my wife... 
 SEVEN DAMMIT!!!

Mark obviously had lots of erm... fun inking the background, his only comment being "…and then the f#¢&ing buildings in the background!"

Note the abundance of Star Wars vehicles in Megacity One, however, one has to ask why Luke's X-34 Landspeeder is flying upside down? I wonder if Dredd is looking at a Skywalker shaped stain?


"Dredd... you've got an erm... you might wanna just... wipe your nose a bit. Yep, it's gone."
 
"…aaaand then colour! Usually colour takes me bloody aaaages, because I’m not a natural colourist - but this one came together much quicker than usual!  And there’s a blood splatter on Dredd’s uniform. You have to have a bloody splatter on Dredd’s uniform, it’s an unwritten law, isn’t it?"
 
I thought it was tomato sauce...

"You've got red on you..."
 
I couldn't possibly publish this post without referencing Mark's previous IDW Dredd cover. Again, this image is an absolute stunner, one of my very favourites of recent years. I adore the blood splatter on the pedway... 
 
 Beatcop...
 
So many cool background details! How many can YOU spot?


He's just not a people person...

A huuuuuuuge thanks to Mark for the files and excellent write up. Mark is genuinely one of the most exciting new Dredd artists around at the minute, his love for the character absolutely shining through in his work. As a fan, it means a lot.

I'd also like to thank Mark for putting my sausage on the cover (where it belongs) and for taking the piss out of Burdis (which is what he deserves!)